The path to a World Series title continues to go through road ballparks.
The Braves made sure of that on Tuesday night, defeating the Astros, 7-0, in Game 6 at Houston’s Minute Maid Park to clinch the World Series championship. This is the seventh straight World Series to be clinched by a road team, excluding the neutral-site 2020 season (when the Dodgers were technically the home team in Game 6).
That’s the longest streak of World Series clinched at the same type of venue in consecutive years -- whether at home or on the road.
Here are more amazing facts and figures to know about the Braves’ title clincher:
A special run ends in triumph
• Atlanta snapped a streak that its fans were certainly tired of hearing about. The Braves had made 16 postseason appearances from 1996 to 2020 without finishing any of them off with a World Series championship, an MLB record. As it turned out, No. 17 was the charm.
• The Braves won only 88 games during the regular season, but the National League East champs didn’t leave any doubt once October came around. They slayed three titans in the 95-win Brewers (NL Central champions), 106-win Dodgers (the winningest Wild Card team ever) and the 95-win Astros (American League West champions) en route to the World Series title.
Atlanta joined the 2011 Cardinals as just the second World Series champion to defeat three 95-plus win teams in postseason play. Of course, that feat has been possible only since the start of the Wild Card Era in 1995, when the postseason expanded to more than two rounds.
• About those 88 wins … the Braves didn’t even surpass the .500 mark for the first time until Aug. 6, their 111th game of the regular season. That was the most games into a season before crossing .500 for the first time by any World Series participant in history, let alone a champion.
An emphatic finish
• The Braves’ seven-run margin of victory in Game 6 was the largest by any team in a World Series clincher since the 1985 Royals blew out the Cardinals, 11-0, in Game 7.
• The Braves also became the 24th team to clinch a World Series with a shutout but the first since the 2005 White Sox. Coincidentally, Chicago’s 1-0 shutout in Game 4 that year also came against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
• Each of the Braves’ two World Series championships since the franchise moved to Atlanta were clinched with season-ending shutouts. On Oct. 28, 1995, the Braves won Game 6 of the Fall Classic, 1-0, against Cleveland, thanks to eight scoreless frames from future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine. In each of those games, Atlanta shut out MLB’s highest-scoring offense during the regular season.
Freddie gets his ring
• The title means that first baseman Freddie Freeman is finally a World Series champ, after 12 seasons, all with the Braves. That’s the third-most seasons, all with a single team, at the time of an active player’s first title, according to Elias. Ryan Zimmerman played 15 seasons with the Nationals before the team won in 2019, and Clayton Kershaw played 13 with the Dodgers before that 2020 title.
Not only that, but Freeman was essential in getting the Braves over the hump. His homer in World Series Game 6 marked his fifth of the 2021 playoffs, tying him with Fred McGriff (1996) for the most by a Braves player across a single postseason.
• It was only fitting that Freeman caught the last out of the season after shortstop Dansby Swanson delivered the game-ending assist across the diamond. It’s the first time a World Series has ended on a 6-3 putout since the 2005 Fall Classic at … Minute Maid Park. White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe charged a weak dribbler hit by Astros pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro and threw the ball in time to first baseman Paul Konerko to finish off a sweep.
Midseason acquisitions strike again
• The trajectory of the Braves’ season changed when the team’s front office, responding to a season-ending knee injury to Ronald Acuña Jr., remade the team’s outfield by acquiring Adam Duvall, Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler ahead of the July 30 Trade Deadline. Now, roughly three months later, the Braves are World Series champions in no small part because of those players’ contributions. Atlanta became the first team to have two players acquired during the season become postseason series MVPs that year, with Soler (World Series) joining Rosario (NL Championship Series).
• The Braves got 12 home runs this postseason from players who also played for another team this season, capped by Soler’s in the clincher on Tuesday. That’s the most homers from in-season acquisitions by any team in the postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Overall, those players who were not on the Braves’ Opening Day roster hit 59 homers for them, including the postseason, the most in a season in MLB history.
• Soler’s three-run moonshot to open the scoring in the third inning of Game 6 was his third homer of the World Series, along with a leadoff shot to open Game 1 and a go-ahead, pinch-hit job in the seventh inning of Game 4. The three big flies tied a Braves record for a single postseason series, and Soler became only the sixth player to hit at least that many to give his team a lead in a single World Series. He joined George Springer (2017 Astros), Curtis Granderson (2015 Mets), Gene Tenace (1972 A’s), Lou Gehrig (1928 Yankees) and Babe Ruth (1926 Yankees).
• Those homers made Soler the fourth Cuban-born postseason MVP and just the second in the World Series, following the Marlins’ Livan Hernandez in 1997.
Fried digs deep and deals
• After a forgettable World Series Game 2 that saw him allow six runs in five-plus innings, Braves starter Max Fried was determined to author a different story in Game 6. With Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) High School teammates Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito in attendance at Minute Maid Park, Fried shut down the mighty Astros offense with six scoreless innings of six-strikeout, four-hit ball.
Fried’s start marked the first of at least six scoreless innings in a potential World Series clinching game since White Sox righty Freddy Garcia spun seven scoreless frames to also finish off the Astros in Game 4 of the 2005 Fall Classic.
• You have to go even farther back to find a starter who tossed six or more scoreless innings without a single walk in a potential World Series clincher: Bret Saberhagen’s title-clinching shutout for the Royals in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. Fried is the seventh pitcher overall to join that list, and his six strikeouts on Tuesday are the most notched by anyone on that list.
• With his superb performance Tuesday, Fried joined a short list featuring some of the best pitchers to ever don a Braves uniform. He is the franchise’s fourth hurler to record at least six scoreless innings in a potential World Series-clinching game, following Glavine (1995 Game 6), John Smoltz (‘91 Game 7) and Lew Burdette (‘57 Game 7). The last Braves pitcher to twirl six scoreless innings in any World Series game was another franchise icon, Greg Maddux, in Game 2 of the ‘96 Fall Classic.